Iran Real Food Adventure
Iran’s charm begins with its stunning environment – snow-capped mountains, rolling deserts, ancient cities and crowded bazaars all add to an unforgettable tapestry of a culture less experienced. However the heart of this charm truly lies in the palate – within the odorous spices, succulent meats and mouth-watering stews created through thousands of years of perfected techniques. Saffron, cheeses, crispy rice and succulent meats all contribute to full flavoured meals capable of taking anyone to another place. It’ll happen to you too. Once you dine on tah chin, fesenjan or any of the other dishes on this Real Food Adventure, it’ll only take a hint of saffron to throw your thoughts back into the depths of that bazaar – that unforgettable moment where the taste of Persia first hit your tongue. Before booking on this trip we recommend that you read the ‘Safety’ section in the trip notes regarding special safety considerations for Iran trips.
Ages: 15 - 99
Accommodation: Hotel (9 nights)
Salam! Welcome to Tehran, Iran. You will be met on arrival at Tehran International airport and transferred to your hotel. This marvellous city sits at the bottom of the Alborz Mountains – their snowy peaks serving as a photogenic backdrop for the colourful buildings below. Tehran is commonly known as one of the country’s most liberal metropolitan areas and this may become obvious through an adventure into the depths of their hospitality scene. It’d be easy to call Iran a land of kebabs, but the country’s gastronomy is a little more complicated than that. Lamb, chickpeas, tahdig (crispy rice pies) and potatoes are all common staples – just don’t forget they’re best washed down with a cup of dugh (minty yoghurt drink). Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting today at 6 pm. Once you arrive, jump straight into a food adventure by sharing a welcome meal with family in their home. Depending on the day, your hosts may prepare typical dishes like khoresht gheimeh (a beef and split pea stew with fried potatoes), zereshk polo morgh (baked saffron rice with barberries and chicken), the famous fesenjan (a poultry stew with pomegranates and walnuts), baghali polo (a rice dish with lamb, saffron, fava beans and dill), or ghormeh sabzi (lamb with herbs and kidney beans, served with rice). Tonight is also about introductions, so enjoy this dinner spread while getting to know your new travel crew.
This morning, head to the local food markets to gather ingredients in preparation for today’s lunch – tahchin. Meaning ‘arranged at the bottom’, this Persian dish, often made for special occasions, is a type of crisp saffron-infused rice cake layered with onions, chicken, rice, yoghurt and eggs. The layer of rice at the bottom becomes crunchy as it bakes against the pan. If you ask most people, that’s the best part of the dish! Also today, you’ll be introduced to traditional Iranian ‘medicine’ – more so a focus on food and drink for overall health and wellness. Traditionally, Persian ‘medicines’ thought of the psychological factors of the human body to be based on seven principles, known as umoor e tabiya. Food is a very important factor in this to establish a synchronised biological rhythm, and your hosts for today will share how, historically, maintaining health by following these methods has always been part of Persian culture. Not only will this cooking class at a local house gives you the chance to learn how to cook this Persian favourite, you’ll also understand the larger picture of local health and wellbeing. After your lunch, take to the streets of Tehran on an orientation walk with your group leader. Check out the Golestan Palace – the dazzling colours of the walls and stained-glass windows are definitely worth a photo or two. Also, stop by the bustling Tehran Bazaar before returning to your hotel for a relaxed evening.
Make tracks for Esfahan this morning. On your way, you’ll stop by the township of Kashan to have lunch at a restaurant called Morshedi – well-known for its high-quality traditional Iranian cuisine. Also on the agenda for today is Tabatabaei House – a classic example of Persian architecture, designed by 19th-century architect Professor Ali Maryam Kashani. The house has two distinct sections and is joined by a grand quadrangle and courtyard. Tabatabaei’s examples of stucco and tile art and striking mirror and glass work provide a glimpse into Iran’s fascinating past. Afterwards, continue on to Esfahan, and once the evening kicks in, get ready to prepare to cook up a delicious homemade Persian biryani. The delicate layering of rice interspersed with spices and meat relies on a Persian steaming method known as ‘dam pohkt’, meaning ‘steam-cooked’. While it can be served up with a variety of meats, tonight’s dish will contain lamb, onions, Iranian sangak bread and spices.
A top destination for travellers to Iran, Esfahan has a lot to offer for those looking to explore Persian culture. The gardens, Islamic buildings and the World Heritage-listed Naqsh-e Jahan Square are just a few of the highlights the city has to offer – it’s hard to miss something that isn’t full of colour or boasting some intricate architecture. Start off today with one of the country’s biggest cities on a guided walk past the Naqsh-e Jahan Square and its nearby mosque, before heading to the Sheik Lotfollah Mosque and the palace of Ali Qapu. Later today, take a visit to a nearby farm to get a feel how the local farmers work these lands. Thanks to a variety of diverse factors such as climate, regional soil and altitude differences throughout the region, the Esfahan Province is widely regarded as one of the most important agricultural sites in Iran. This means there’s plenty of fresh produce growing in the area outside the city just waiting to be harvested. You’ll then travel back into town for a visit to the Esfahan bazaar located in the old part of the city. Fresh fruit, rugs, trinkets, memoirs and entire shops dedicated to saffron are hallmarks of the typical Persian market – just make sure to stick close to the group as these busy halls can easily sweep up lost people.
En route from Esfahan to Yazd today, stop by Aqda for another traditional Persian lunch; this time in a beautifully preserved house. Your main dish will be fesenjan – a rich tangy chicken stew with walnuts and pomegranates. This dish is typically served as a holiday favourite during Shab-e Yalda – a winter solstice that predates Islam by thousands of years. To prepare, cook chicken in olive oil until lightly golden, then a sauce is then made from ground-up toasted walnuts, pomegranate molasses and spices, and slowly simmered until it turns a rich walnut colour. The end result is a complex and delicious sauce that’s sweet and slightly tart in flavour. Onwards to Yazd – a maze of streets, winding lanes and archways upon archways, Yazd is much of a city as it is a labyrinth! Begin your adventure on a leader-led orientation walk, visiting the Masid-e Jameh – a stunning example of an Azari mosque that boasts the tallest minarets in the country. Check out the symmetrical alcoves of the Amir Chakhmaq Complex, then head on to the Water Museum before arriving at the old mud brick city. Tonight, your food experience is a Yazd favourite. It’s a delicious, traditional stew called gheimeh yazdi, made of lamb or beef, with peas, onion, turmeric and tomato. Your local hosts will lay out a tablecloth on their carpeted floor, and while this may seem unusual, this is the way most Iranians still dine.
Take to the streets of Yazd for a wander through the finest sweet stalls in Iran. Many generations of confectioners have operated in this area for centuries, selling treats unlike anywhere else in the world. There’s haji badam – small round balls made with chickpea flour, eggs, sugar, almonds, cardamoms and nutmeg; nan berenji – a round cookie made with rice flour, cardamom and rosewater and sprinkled with poppy seeds; and souhan – a grainy version of brittle made with pistachios instead of peanut. There’s also the flour-based baqlava – made with almonds, pistachios, cardamom and rosewater. The best seller of all is qottab – an almond-shaped and infused cookie with a crispy shell rolled in powdered sugar. After loading up on sweet treats, visit a local workshop that makes sugar cubes before heading on to a traditional bakery for a bite of gata or koloocheh. The afternoon is free for you to explore the streets of Yazd, perhaps finding a local restaurant for Iran’s favourite: kabab.
Today’s adventures begin with a drive from Yazd to Shiraz (approximately 6.5 hours), and once arrived, head on an orientation walk through the town, visiting locations such as the Karimkhan Citadel and the Pars Museum. A stop at the Vakil Bazaar offers a taste and insight into the making of traditional Iranian ice-cream and faloudeh – a delicious cold desert consisting of noodles and frozen rose water syrup with lime juice added to serve. While the city may have once played namesake to Shiraz wine, not a drop of the stuff has come from the area since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Yet the region is still full of master beverage producers with some of the local non-alcoholic drinks boasting an unmatched flavour through the use of unexpected ingredients. Different plants such as rose, mint, musk willow and walnut are distilled to create drinks with both medical and gastronomic uses. You’ll be able to learn more about this at an included visit to a workshop where some of these beverages are kept and produced.
Drive 60 kilometres northeast of Shiraz into the countryside of the Fars Province on a hunt for the ancient city of Persepolis. The former capital of the Achaemenid Empire, this World Heritage-listed site holds some of the earliest examples of the Achaemenid style of architecture – hallmarked by intricate carvings, flat surfaced structures and lots of stone. A few more kilometres north of Persepolis lies the necropolis of Naqsh-e Rustam. Though parts of this ‘city of the dead’ is said to have suffered major damage over the last millennium, the impressive stone carvings on the side of the necropolis’ massive cliff face are still a spectacular site to this day. After exploring these ancient cities, head to a cheese making process in the evening. Persians are big lovers of cheese, so expect some excellent flavours which you might get to sample, if you’re lucky. A traditional panir cheese recipe creates a very delicate, mild tasting cheese with hints of mint and lime. Lighvan cheese is a little more sour – it’s covered with holes and usually ends up served at breakfast or dinner with a piece of fresh bread. An Iranian favourite is Persian feta, which involves taking a block of Greek style feta, drying it out, brining it for a day before serving it up dry with sunflower oil, lime zest and garlic – a flavour you can’t beat.
After a free morning in Shiraz, prepare for a flight back to Iran’s capital, Tehran (approximately 1.5 hours). Depending on flight schedules, you’ll have some time in the afternoon to check out the city, and maybe head somewhere you missed earlier on in your Iranian adventure. In the evening, celebrate your culinary quest through Iran with a special dinner at Gilani restaurant in town. Gilani cuisine is a regional variation of Northern Iran, specialising in fish and caviar, as well as an abundance of vegetables, due to the region’s vicinity to the Caspian Sea, Sefid-Rud River and the lush Alborz Mountains. This regional cuisine has been acclaimed by UNESCO, with its capital, Rasht, having been named a Creative City of Gastronomy. Toast with your group leader and travel crew the fascinating sites and delicious tastes you’ve tasted in Iran.
There are no activities planned for today and you are free to depart the accommodation at any time. Please note you must check out of the hotel by 12 pm.
- Persepolis - Naqsh-e Rustam Necropolis
12 Shahriar Street
IRAN, ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF
12 Shahriar Street
IRAN, ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF
1. An arrival transfer is included on this trip.
2. A Single Supplement is available on this trip, please ask your booking agent for more information.
3. As our trip begins on a Thursday we highly recommend passengers exchange money at the Airport as all other currency exchange houses in the city will be closed until Saturday.
4. An internal flight from Shiraz to Tehran on Day 9 is included in the price of the trip. The maximum check-in baggage allowance is 17kgs per person plus hand luggage.
5. Please note that US, British and Canadian passport holders will need to book this trip at least 2 months before departure as this is the length of time it takes to process a visa for these nationalities. There may also be further travel restrictions that apply to these nationalities. Please see our online visa information for more details. Simply select the relevant nationality in the drop down list to access detailed visa information http://www.intrepidtravel.com/iran-visa-application-form
6. Please note that travellers cannot use debit or credit cards while in Iran. You will need to bring all the money you will need for your entire trip with you. Please read through the money matters section of your essential trip information for further details Please note that travellers cannot use debit or credit cards while in Iran. You will need to bring all the money you will need for your entire trip with you. Please read through the money matters section of your essential trip information for further details is included on this trip.
7. Please note that the 16 May 2019 departure of this trip is during the month of Ramadan. Included meals will be served when the restaurants are open and the cooking classes will be held in private local houses. There may also be some slight amendments to the times of some of the activities to accommodate Ramadan.
All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns. For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field: www.intrepidtravel.com/safety
FIRE PRECAUTIONS: Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms. BALCONIES: Some hotel balconies don't meet western standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm. TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD: Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware! SEAT BELTS: Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts. PICK POCKETING & PERSONAL SAFETY: While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking at night and encourage you to walk in groups and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing. WATER SAFETY: Please take care when taking part in any activities in the ocean, river or open water, where waves and currents can be unpredictable. It's expected that anyone taking part in water activities is able to swim and have experience in open water. All swimmers should seek local advice before entering the water. TRAVEL ADVICE & TRAVEL INSURANCE We recommend that you check your government's advice in relation to the areas you will be visiting for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers.
SAFETY IN IRAN: Following recent incidents in Iran, we recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before your departure and that you ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas in your itinerary. We have links to all major travel advisories and regular updates on issues affecting your trip on our travel alerts page. Is Iran safe? This question will be asked of you many times before you arrive in Iran and long after you return. One of the biggest misconceptions is that Iran is an unfriendly country - this couldn't be further from the truth. You are likely to be greeted with salaams (hello) by the many friendly faces that you'll see during your time here. The Iranian people are famous for their warm hospitality and welcoming nature so don't be surprised if locals invite you into their homes where you'll suddenly find yourself reclining on a Persian carpet with your smiling hosts, drinking tea and sharing food and plenty of laughs. Tourism is in its infancy in Iran and you'll find that the local people will show a genuine interest towards you and want to try out their English on you. Of course, petty crime does exist but probably the only danger you'll face while here is the country's chaotic traffic, especially when crossing the road or even while walking on the footpath.
As a general rule most countries expect that your passport has a minimum of 6 months validity remaining. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Your consultant will contact you when this is required. Take a copy of the main passport pages and other important documents with you, and leave another copy at home with family or friends.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.
Most foreign visitors require a visa to enter Iran. Please be aware that this can be a frustrating and stressful process, and can take from 6-8 weeks. You will need to allow sufficient time for this and plan any other travel around your Iran trip accordingly. The cost of a visa also varies dependent on your nationality, and also changes regularly, making it hard for us to advise of the actual cost. But you should plan for it to cost somewhere around 100-180EUR depending if you get a visa before departure or on arrival.
Iranian visas are issued in a two-step process and this will differ according to your nationality.
1. An authorisation code for your visa must be issued by the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
2. A visa for your passport must then be obtained at an Iranian Embassy once the authorisation code has been issued, or on arrival (depending on your nationality).
If you are travelling on UK, USA or CANADIAN passport please be aware that your visa process can take longer due to government regulations. Please check that you will have sufficient time to obtain a visa before departure.
Follow the link below and select your nationality in the drop down list to access detailed visa information relevant to you. When your trips has been confirmed you can then proceed to the online visa authorisation code application.
Why we love it
Cook culinary favourites in Iranian family homes – from the sumptuous spiced meat and rice of biryani to sharp and tangy fesenjan stews, you’ll be tasting exotic yet oh so delightful dishes every day.
Sample regional delicacies at some of the finest sweet stores in Iran during a visit to Yazd, snacking on crunchy almond qottab or chewy soft baqlava as you experience local life passing you by.
You haven’t had real kabab until you’ve tried Iran’s version. Discover the regional variations of the national dish, including kabab koobideh (the original) and kabab barg (barbecued fillets of meat).
Learn the secrets of ancient Persian ‘medicine’ at a local home, where food and drink were, and still are, pivotal to overall health and wellness, and the prevention of ailments.
Discover the dazzling colours of Golestan Palace in Tehran, Yazd’s old mud brick city, and the ancient city of Persepolis in between your eating escapades.
Is this trip right for you
Iran is one of the safest and friendliest places you can travel, but it is very conservative. It is very important that before you sign up for this tour you are committed to following a strict dress code (particularly for women) in what may be quite warm weather. Things don't get much more different to home than this! On arrival in Iran, all women must wear a headscarf and must also have their arms and legs covered. Men must also be conservatively dressed.
Alcohol is strictly forbidden in Iran and severe penalties will be incurred by anyone attempting to bring it into the country. Drug laws are also extremely strict and travellers face lengthy jail terms if caught. If found, obscene material (including glossy magazines showing people in immodest poses), and controversial literature will all be confiscated by custom officials. Upon arrival, it is likely that you will be whisked through customs, but please note that random bag checks do occur.
The pathways around some of the sites may be uneven, rocky or dusty. Some of the guided trips may involve quite a lot of walking in the elements. Please bring comfortable walking shoes and be prepared with hats, sunscreen, water or layers for cooler weather.
Iran is a big country and this trip covers a lot in two weeks, so be prepared for some long travel days with lots of opportunity to take in the great landscapes.
Please note that we use a local supplier for our arrival transfer. As tourism is a developing industry in Iran, it is possible your driver will not speak English.
Please note that travellers cannot use debit or credit cards while in Iran. You will need to bring all the money you will need for your entire trip with you. Please read through the money matters section of your essential trip information for further details.
Getting a visa for Iran can be a frustrating and time-consuming process. It may take a couple of weeks to get your authorisation code, and then it can take up to 30 days to receive your visa back from the embassy or consulate. Rules can and do change often – this is the nature of the destination. We are here to help you through it, so please speak to your booking agent if you need more information about the process.
All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, we reserve the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip.
As a rule we recommend you don't drink tap water, even in hotels, as it may contain much higher levels of different minerals than the water you are used to at home. For local people this is not a problem as their bodies are used to this and can cope, but for visitors drinking the tap water can result in illness. Generally this isn't serious, an upset stomach being the only symptom, but it's enough to spoil a day or two of your holiday. Many hotels and lodges provide safe drinking water, while bottled water is another alternative. Water consumption should be about two litres a day. Rehydration salts, motion sickness tablets, and diarrhoea blockers are available from many pharmacies.
Food and dietary requirements
While we will endeavour to cater to dietary requirements where possible, please note that many meals and food activities on Real Food Adventures are set in advance in order to deliver a well-rounded experience of a country’s cuisine. In many countries, dietary restrictions are uncommon and not well understood. If you have dietary requirements and are concerned about whether this may impact on your ability to participate fully in all food-related activities on this trip, please contact your agent at time of booking for further information. If you have dietary requirements and/or food allergies, you must notify your booking agent prior to departure so it can be determined whether your dietary requirements can be met.
Meals & Beverages:
Please refer to the inclusions section for the included meals and food activities. Beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) are not included with meals unless specified or part of a beverage tasting activity.
When it comes to money matters on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities, tipping and laundry. It’s always better to bring a little more than you think you’ll need.
Also make sure you’ve read your trip details thoroughly so you know what’s included in the trip price and what isn’t. This should make budgeting a little easier. You’ll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that’s this document).
Please note: all recommendations for additional costs, tipping etc. are in USD. You will need to convert these into the relevant local currency.
MEALS NOT INCLUDED
Depending on the style of trip you have chosen (Basix, Original or Comfort), included meals will vary.
Breakfast. If breakfast is not included, you can expect to pay between USD5 to USD10 at a local café.
Lunch. Lunch at a touristy restaurant should cost around USD10 to USD20. However, local street food can be substantially cheaper.
Dinner. At dinner time, your leader will normally recommend restaurants where you can safely try the local specialties of the region. Expect meals to cost between USD15 to USD25 for a main.
These are indicative prices only. If you are in a tight budget and are happy to eat just local food you can eat cheaper than this. If you want to try the finest food at the finest restaurants, then you can expect meals to cost as much as in western countries.
Known as 'baksheesh' in the Middle East, tipping is a part of everyday life and is more than just a reward for services rendered. In countries where wages are extremely low it is an essential means of supplementing income. This practice is not merely reserved for foreigners and locals have to constantly hand out 'Baksheesh' as well - to park their cars, ensure fresh produce and pick up their mail. If you are satisfied with the services provided, a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate and always appreciated. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels.
Usually the equivalent of around USD5 to USD10 per person, per day to cover tips is fine. Over the years we have found that many of our travellers find the need for tipping to be both tiresome and embarrassing, especially if they don't have the correct small change. To overcome this, your leader might raise the idea of a group tipping kitty. At your group meeting, your tour leader may discuss the idea of running this kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips as you go. The leader will keep a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This kitty does not include tips for your leader and crew.
To give you a bit of guidance, we’ve put together the following tipping notes. These are just suggestions, based on feedback from past travellers and our staff on the ground.
- Basic restaurants – Round up to the nearest figure or leaving the loose change is generally fine.
- Up-market restaurants – When checking the bill, if there’s an addition of 10% service charge, there’s no requirement for tipping. Otherwise, 10% of the total bill amount is appropriate.
- Local guides – Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest USD2 to USD3 per person, per day for local guides.
- Your tour leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline USD2 to USD4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you bring an extra USD500 for emergencies (e.g. natural disasters or civil unrest). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to our itineraries, and we can’t guarantee there won’t be some extra costs involved.
CREDIT CARD, ATMS AND MONEY EXCHANGE
With the exception of Iran, ATMs are widely available in major towns and cities throughout the Middle East and Turkey. Credit and debit cards are the best way to access money throughout most trips (note though that charges are made for each transaction). Credit cards are generally available in tourist shops and restaurants. Visa and Mastercard are generally preferred over American Express, Diners, etc. Smaller venues take cash only.
Check with your bank before departure that your card is accepted in the countries you are travelling to. Also ensure your bank is aware of your travel plans as - suspecting fraud - they may cancel your cards after the first few international transactions.
Be aware that your withdrawing limit may vary from country to country (regardless of your withdrawing limit in your home country) and it can be as low as the equivalent to USD100 per day.
TRAVELLERS TO IRAN PLEASE NOTE:
Iran is very much a cash economy. This means travellers can rarely use debit or credit cards while in Iran. There are virtually no opportunities to withdraw cash in Iran. ATM’s are non-existent. Credit cards are also only accepted sporadically; there may be rare occasions in tourist-orientated shops that credit cards are accepted, otherwise cash is the main method of trade in Iran.
If you are arriving into Tehran on Thursday afternoon or Friday we highly recommend passengers exchange money at the Airport as all other currency exchange houses in the city will be closed until Saturday.
What to take
What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible and make sure that you are able to carry and lift your own luggage, and walk with it for short distances.
Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
Below are some ideas and helpful tips on what you specifically need for this trip.
GENERAL PACKING LIST:
• Travel documents: passport, visa (if required), travel insurance, air tickets or e-ticket receipts and a copy of this document.
• Photocopy of main passport pages, visa (if required), travel insurance and air tickets.
• Personal medical kit. Your guide will carry a large kit but we recommend you carry items such as mild pain killers, electrolytes and bandaids.
• Watch/Alarm clock or phone that can be used for both.
• Power adaptors
• Insect repellent
• Sun protection - hat, sunscreen, sunglasses
• Earplugs and eye mask (you might be sharing with a snorer!)
• Water bottle. We recommend at least a 1.5litre capacity. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments.
• Warm clothes including hat and gloves - When travelling in cooler climates
• Wind and waterproof rain jacket
• Toiletries/travel wipes
• Travel Towel
• Closed in, comfortable walking shoes. As most of our trips include some walking elements, we highly recommend that you take a pair of comfortable, closed-in walking shoes. Closed-in shoes will help to protect your feet from cuts and scratches when walking through bush/grass-lands, and will also act as a barrier protection in rare cases against bites or stings.
• Camera with spare memory cards and batteries
• Swimwear (itinerary dependant)
• Clothes! Bear in mind that laundry facilities will be widely available throughout this trip. The cost varies in each destination.
On this trip, you must pack as lightly as possible because you will be expected to carry your own bag and, although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage, we strongly recommend keeping the weight under 15kg. If your itinerary includes a flight, please keep in mind that some domestic airlines have checked luggage limits of 15kg.
CLOTHING & CLIMATE:
Please note that as a desert region, the Middle East can have extreme weather. Temperatures are generally hot with little rain. This can become extreme during the summer months of June to August. In the months of December to March it can be very cold, particularly next to the river or the ocean and out in the desert where night temperatures can drop dramatically. Even in the hot months, it can get cold in the desert at night. Consider bringing a sleeping bag, thermals, scarf, gloves and a warm jacket for travel in this period, especially on itineraries which include camping such as on a felucca, in a desert camp, or at a Red Sea beach camp. A light water and windproof jacket is useful and a hat is essential.
Please try to avoid bringing unnecessary valuables, and use your hotel safes to store the bulk of your money, passport, and airline tickets. It’s also a good idea to purchase a money belt or pouch that is easily hidden. We strongly recommend that you photocopy all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, etc. and keep the copies separate from the originals. While not valid, a photocopy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary.
Most of our trips have access to power to recharge batteries for phones and cameras regularly. We always recommend that you carry an extra battery for your camera just in case. Charging of batteries is advised before checking out of your hotel rooms. Please bear in mind there may be some nights were electricity may not be as readily available as you might be used to – home stays, beach and desert camps etc.
Generally drones are not permitted into any Middle East destination or they require registration and pre approval please refer to your airline carrier if you are considering taking a drone on your travels or check out drone laws by country on line.
We have had some reports of binoculars being confiscated or causing delay in customs if carried in hand luggage.
Climate and seasonal
In 2018, the important month of Ramadan will be in progress from 15 May through until 14 June, and the Eid ul-Fitr festival will be held directly at its conclusion for 3-4 days. Ramadan is a festival of sacrifice where the devout refrain from eating or drinking during daylight hours. During Ramadan, business hours are shortened, including opening hours at some tourist attractions. Alcohol is not permitted during daylight hours and many restaurants will be closed. While you should expect some delays and inconveniences during this period, the month is a fantastic opportunity to travel in a Muslim country and witness this unique period, particularly the nightly celebrations when the sun sets and the fast is broken. Please note that although the Eid ul-Fitr festival can also be a fascinating time to travel it's a period of national holiday. Most government offices and businesses will be closed and some tourist site opening hours may be affected.
WEEKEND & PUBLIC HOLIDAYS IN IRAN:
Thursday (afternoon) and Friday are the weekend in Iran. Please note that there may be changes to operating hours of sites, museums and stores. Iran also has a lot of public holidays. The dates of many of these holidays change annually as they are scheduled according to the lunar calendar. If you are arriving over a weekend or public holiday we recommend you change some money beforehand as Currency Exchanges will be closed over these days
IRANIAN NEW YEAR:
Please note that the Iranian New Year will take place from 19 March to 2 April 2018. Many Iranian banks and government offices will be closed for the week of this period. Iran Authorisation code request forms will not be accepted or processed during this time by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tehran
A couple of rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for our travellers. Our philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader or local representative has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure on their trip. We don’t tolerate any form of sexual harassment, either between passengers or involving our leaders or local operators. Sexual relationships (consensual or otherwise) between a leader and a passenger are unacceptable. If you ever feel another person is behaving inappropriately please inform us immediately by contacting the emergency contact number detailed in these trip notes.
ALCOHOL, DRUGS AND CONTRABAND:
Alcohol is strictly forbidden in Iran and severe penalties will be incurred by anyone attempting to bring it into the country. Drug laws are also extremely strict and travellers face lengthy jail terms if caught. If found, pork products, obscene material (even glossy magazines showing people in immodest poses), and controversial literature will all be confiscated by custom officials. Upon arrival, you as a foreigner will likely be whisked through customs but note that random bag checks do commonly occur.
After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.
Can’t stop thinking about your adventure? Tell us all about it! We read each piece of feedback carefully and use it to make improvements for travellers like you. Share your experience with us at: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback/
GENERAL ISSUES ON YOUR TRIP
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local operator on the number below:
Intrepid's Local Operator: +98 902 456 6080
Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to preserving the environment, supporting local communities, protecting the vulnerable and giving back to the places we travel. All our trip leaders, suppliers and staff are trained on these principles, and are core to us delivering sustainable, experience-rich travel.
Explore the different parts of our Responsible Travel Policy by visiting:
Iran is a traditional Islamic nation and a strict dress code is enforced throughout the country. The code of dress must be adhered to at all times. Men must wear long trousers at all times and generally keep themselves neat and tidy. Loose fitting cotton pants are preferable for the Iranian heat. Short sleeve shirts that cover your shoulders and open-toed sandals are now acceptable for men.
Women must wear the hijab at all times, apart from in their hotel bedrooms of course. A hijab consists of the manteau, a loose-fitting trench coat that comes down to just above your knees, plus a headscarf. It is not necessary for foreigners to wear a manteau. A headscarf can be of any colour. It's now perfectly acceptable for women to wear a headscarf that shows some of their fringe and you'll see many ladies doing so and Its acceptable for women to wear loose long linen or cotton shirts, or even long light cardigans. These need to be long enough to cover your bottom. Your group leader will advise you of what attire is appropriate during the welcome meeting.
Upon arrival in Iran, women not wearing a headscarf, long sleeves, closed shoes and a loose fitting skirt or pants may be refused entry into the country (to avoid this problem bring a thin full-length raincoat, long sleeved shirt or tunic from home). Men must be wearing long trousers upon arrival and shirts that cover their shoulder, or they too may be refused entry.
HEATING AND AIR-CONDITIONING:
As a desert region, this part of the world has extremes of weather. Winter months (approx December to March) can be very cold. All of our hotel accommodation contains suitable bedding, and simple light bedding is provided during camping activities such as an overnight felucca, desert camps or at the Red Sea Beach camp stay. Most of our travellers find the bedding provided here adequate, but for your own comfort and if you are particularly sensitive to the cold, consider bringing your own sleeping bag, thermals, scarf, gloves and a warm jacket. Some of our guesthouses / hotels don't supply heating. In many cases this would be a major financial and environmental strain on our hotels and the local towns. Summer (approx June to August) can be very hot everywhere we travel, which means that it can be quite uncomfortable for those not used to the heat. Not all our hotels have air-conditioning, and in those that do, it's not always functioning.
Accommodation on this trip is on a twin-share basis unless stated otherwise. If you require a double bed please request this with your booking agent. Double beds are subject to availability and can not always be guaranteed.
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Essential Trip Information. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour.
A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and may be on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist.
Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
Please note deposits on this trip are non refundable and non-transferable as per our terms and conditions. You are required to pay a non-refundable deposit of $400 per person per trip for your booking to be confirmed.
Hotel (9 nights)